African nations sense upper hand in minerals stand-off – by Barbara Lewis and Joe Bavier (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2019)

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – African nations with rich reserves of copper and cobalt needed for the shift to electric vehicles sense they have the upper hand in negotiations with mining companies that are struggling to secure better terms.

Days of talks at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town – Africa’s premier mining investment conference – yielded no tangible breakthrough between the miners and governments increasingly keen to reassert control over their natural resources.

Copper and cobalt reserves are giving nations such as Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo confidence because of the difficulty in finding supplies elsewhere to meet the expected surge in demand. This has emboldened them to seek higher tax revenues from foreign mining companies.

Mark Bristow, CEO of the newly enlarged Barrick Gold, emerged this week as the big miners’ most prominent voice, holding meeting after meeting with mining ministers, culminating in a grand dinner on Wednesday night.

But Bristow declined to be drawn on when he might get a deal in the toughest jurisdictions of Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, whose governments are demanding terms the international mining companies say are untenable.

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